By TASSANEE VEJPONGSA (Associated Press)
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A heavily armed gunman in a bulletproof vest opened fire on the streets of Philadelphia on Monday night, seemingly at a random, killing five people and wounding two boys before surrendering, police said.
The shootings took place over several city blocks in the southwestern neighborhood of Kingsessing. Responding officers chased the suspect as he continued to fire, and he was arrested in an alley after giving himself up, Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said at a news conference.
“Thank God our officers were on the scene and responded as quickly as they did. I can’t even describe the level of bravery and courage that was shown, in addition to the restraint that was shown here,” Outlaw said.
No connection was immediately known between the victims and the shooter, she said. He had a bulletproof vest, an “AR-type rifle,” multiple magazines, a handgun and a police scanner.
Officers were flagged down at about 8:30 p.m., and multiple calls of shots fired came in from Kingsessing. Police found some gunshot victims, and as they were attending to them, they heard more gunfire, Outlaw said. Police later told Fox 29 that a fifth victim was found. He was chased into his home and shot to death. Bullet casings were found outside the home.
The suspected shooter was identified as a 40-year-old man. A second person was also taken into custody who may have returned fire at the suspect, but police did not know whether there was a connection between the two people, Outlaw said.
The chief said dozens of shell casings were found across an eight block area.
“You can see there are several scenes out here,” Outlaw said. “We’re canvassing the area to get as much as we can, to identify witnesses, to identify where cameras are located and to do everything to figure out the why,” Outlaw said.
Three of the dead were 20 to 59 years old, while the fourth, who had not yet been identified, was estimated to be between 16 and 21. The victim found in his home was 31 years old. All were male.
The two hospitalized victims are boys, ages 2 and 13. They were in stable condition, Outlaw said.
Tim Eads said he heard fireworks and then gunshots, saw police cars “flying by,” and his wife on the second floor “was looking out the bay window and saw the shooter actually coming down this street here behind me.” He himself saw another man with a pistol who he thinks may have been firing at the shooter.
“He was using my car as a shield shooting out into the street,” Eads said.
A resident named Roger who declined to give his last name said he and his family were eating in the living room at about 8:30 p.m. when they heard eight to 10 gunshots.
“Everybody thought it was fireworks but .. been around here about three years so I heard it enough,” he said. “I looked out the window and seen a bunch of people running.”
He said he heard about four more shots and “thought it was the end of it.” Ten minutes later, he said, police came “flying down here,” and about five minutes later he heard rapid gunfire open up right outside the house.
Roger said the neighborhood is family-oriented but “you have angry people sometimes who just don’t know how to express themselves and unfortunately they go grab a gun and do the worst.”
About four hours after the Philadelphia shooting, fatal gunfire rang out at a neighborhood festival in Fort Worth, Texas, leaving three people dead and eight injured.
A day earlier, a holiday weekend block party in Baltimore, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the southwest, was marred when two people were killed and 28 others were wounded in a shooting. More than half of the victims were minors, officials said.
The Philadelphia violence is the country’s 29th mass killing in 2023, according to a database maintained by The Associated Press and USA Today in partnership with Northeastern University, the highest on record by this time in the year.
The numbers people killed in such events is also the highest by this time in the year.
There have been more than 550 mass killings since 2006, according to the database, in which at least 2,900 people have died and at least 2,000 people have been injured.
Source: Berkshire mont